How to find work that fits around auditions and acting jobs
There are many flexible, part or full time, weekend or evening jobs out there for actors to make a living between gigs – it just takes a little bit of looking to find them, and then establishing yourself there in order to make the most of the flexibility you require.
Firstly, what I do. I work at the bars at a prominent theatre in London, that offers well-paid, very flexible work, as well as good holiday time and rates. Because there are so many people there and the flexibility is high, you can not be available for a few weeks or so and still come back and get shifts, which is great. You can also swap shifts reasonably easily, and if you can only work certain times then you can do that too, within reason. Try looking at these type of jobs in art institutions which are government funded and might have many different people doing the same thing in different areas – the Royal Festival Hall, National Gallery or the Royal Opera House are some good examples I would think.
My second job is in a gym. Not a huge chain one, but a smaller chain one which is run as a sort of local place with a less corporate attitude. Therefore if you work hard, volunteer for the odd things and generally pitch in, when it comes to calling in a favour or asking for help if a job or audition comes up, then you usually get a lot more sympathy. So maybe try and find work in this kind of smaller or local place or business, and you might get lucky.
Some other options I’ve heard of which works for other people now. I know of RSVP, a call centre job with reasonable rates which specifically employs actors to work there. They are flexible - you can go to last minute auditions if one comes up, and you can work days, evenings or weekends. I guess the downside is that it is a call centre job, but working in a comfortable environment with lots of like-minded people can’t be that bad. There are other similar flexible call centre jobs out there for actors or non-actors, so have a good search online and you’ll be sure to find some more.
Temp work is another good option, and I know of many people who do this and can earn good money – enough to keep you going during a play and a little bit more for when you’re back hunting for the next temp job, and it is of course flexible. If again you can work hard, prove yourself to be attentive and reliable and maybe even try and carve yourself out a specialism at the place you are working at, you make yourself a much bigger attraction to a company or a temp agency, and you will find them being a lot more flexible with you to try and accommodate your requirements. Again temping is easy to find – there are hundreds of companies and sites online.
Other than that – be creative. If you do have a specialism or passion on the side, then consider working on this. I had a friend at drama school who wrote film reviews for a publication back at his old home town – you get to watch films, write about them and get paid – amazing. If you like bikes maybe work at a local bike shop part time, if you like photography you might be able to establish yourself as a good runner or assistant at a studio or generally. The hugely influential and popular composer Philip Glass was a plumber and taxi driver between jobs, so don’t knock this type of work and remember that everyone has done this type of thing before on the way to the top.
And don’t forget the promo work of course; you can get good money from handing out leaflets, dressing up as a chicken or a banana or something, or simply giving out roses to girls on valentines day for an hour – which I have done! They are many and varied promo jobs out there, check out the agencies and give them a go, or being even more creative – why not set one up yourself?
Also check out Spotlight for information, advice and companies for non-acting work, and again I know of loads of people who are teacher’s assistants, who earn very good money doing that, with of course shorter hours than a normal working day.
As detailed above there are loads of options if you go a-hunting, so get your head down and find something that’s right for you, and remember if it is a good thing then try and stick with it for a while; you can then plough all your energy into your creative work.